Dr. Donaldson MacLeod can certainly be described as a “Jack of all trades” when referring to our Celtic heritage in general and Glengarry Celtic heritage in particular. Fluent in three languages, English, French and Gaelic, Donaldson, an engineer by profession, is better known in Glengarry for his strong promotion of just about anything Scottish. It is frequently said that “if you want something done, ask a busy person.” This describes Donaldson to perfection. He frequently has so many irons in the fire that it is hard to keep track of him.
Musically, Donaldson is a fiddler, but he started out on the piano when, at six years old, he took lessons from Sherrill Trottier and later from Mavis Dewar Morris. His first experience with the violin came when he took lessons for four years from Rev. Dawes in Alexandria. During his early years in McCrimmon, Donaldson was influenced by the music of The Dougie Boys of the McCrimmon Orchestra fame, the MacQueens, the Skye Orchestra and the Glen Orchestra. This upbringing is reflected in his musical choices today as his repertoire is composed of “good old McCrimmon Hall tunes.”
Through the years Donaldson has played at house parties, ceilidhs, lawn socials, funerals, concerts, etc. However, playing the fiddle is only a small part of Donaldson’s continued effort to promote Glengarry, its music and its Scottish heritage. He has played with the Glengarry Old Time Fiddlers, and The Glengarry Strathspey and Reel Society. In addition, proving that he was willing to work as well as play, he served as President of the GS&RS, the Glengarry Club of Ottawa, the Glengarry Clan MacLeod Society and the Glengarry Highland Games.
To promote Scottish fiddle music at the Highland Games, Donaldson, along with Ron Clare and Malcolm Dewar, organized the Saturday afternoon fiddling at the Games. He went on to serve as chairman of that committee for 20 years. Fiddling at the Glengarry Highland Games is now recognized as one of the best fiddle programs in North America. He also organizes dances at McCrimmon Hall, music for the Kirking of the Tartan, workshops for the GS&RS and in his “spare time” he and his wife Isabel attend almost every party held in Glengarry and travel extensively.